* * Anonymous Doc

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Another patient yesterday, English wasn't his first language but he spoke it almost perfectly, didn't have to use the translator phone.

I'm taking the patient history, he's telling me why he's here, and I ask him if he's had any diarrhea. For the first time in the conversation, he pauses and gives me a look.

"I don't know that word."


"Yes. What is that?"

I'd never really thought about how you explain the concept of diarrhea to someone. But it's not that easy to do.

"Uh, it means loose stool, watery, comes out very quickly..."

"You mean out of the penis?"


1 comment:

  1. This comment is several years late, but relevant. I lived in China for a year after studying Chinese for a few years in college. This did not prepare me for getting sick and needing to go to the pharmacy to ask for some medicine. I think I was actually looking for some kind of Midol equivalent, but when I tried to describe my problem in broken Chinese, the pharmacist misunderstood the nature of my complaint and asked if I had "la duzi," the most common complaint foreigner students have.

    I was unfamiliar with the term and must have shown my confusion because the pharmacist proceeded to repeat the phrase loudly (in a crowded store) and show me with charades that "la duzi" means diarrhea in Chinese. It involved some hand gestures like something was spraying out of her anus. It worked, because I understood what she was asking, but I never did get any Midol.